“Sin’s Invisible Hooks” April 30

 

Sin's Invisible Hooks - Are you playing around with some sinful thought or thinking about something from your past? Sin is not something to be played with. In our pride we think we can handle it and it won’t get a hold on us. But sin has invisible hooks that can drag us down and take us places we never intended to go. Sin will take you farther than you want to go, keep you longer than you want to stay, and cost you more than you want to pay. – unknown We see an example of this in today's Old Testament reading. Eli's two sons, both priests, were stealing the sacrifices and sleeping with women in the doorway of the tabernacle. How could that happen? And, more importantly, could it happen to us?Are you playing around with some sinful thought or thinking about something from your past?

Sin is not something to be played with. In our pride we think we can handle it and it won’t get a hold on us. But sin has invisible hooks that can drag us down and take us places we never intended to go.

Sin will take you farther than you want to go, keep you longer than you want to stay, and cost you more than you want to pay. – unknown

We see an example of this in today’s Old Testament reading. Eli’s two sons, both priests, were stealing the sacrifices and sleeping with women in the doorway of the tabernacle. How could that happen? And, more importantly, could it happen to us?

 

Today’s Readings:
1 Samuel 1-3
Psalm 53.1-6
Proverbs 15.8-11
Luke 20.27-47

 

Sin’s Invisible Hooks

 

1 Samuel 1-3:

Multiple Wives: Provocation & Ridicule

 

There’s so much in these 3 chapters! First once again, there’s the multiple wives issue. I’ve said it before, but it’s worth repeating, God never presents it as a good thing. He always shows the conflicts and problems that resulted.

Chapter 1:

¹ Now there was a certain man of Ramathaim Zophim, of the mountains of Ephraim, and his name was Elkanah the son of Jeroham, the son of Elihu, the son of Tohu, the son of Zuph, an Ephraimite. And he had two wives: the name of one was Hannah, and the name of the other Peninnah. Peninnah had children, but Hannah had no children.

Verses 4-7:

And whenever the time came for Elkanah to make an offering, he would give portions to Peninnah his wife and to all her sons and daughters. But to Hannah he would give a double portion, for he loved Hannah, although the Lord had closed her womb. And her rival also provoked her severely, to make her miserable, because the Lord had closed her womb. So it was, year by year, when she went up to the house of the Lord, that she provoked her; therefore she wept and did not eat.

It appears Hannah was Elhanah’s favorite. That may have provoked Peninnah to jealousy (not an excuse, by the way). In any case, she ridiculed Hannah because of her barrenness. Elhanah may have been a little provoked and frustrated himself. And he, certainly, doesn’t seem to understand Hannah’s longing for a son.

“Then Elkanah her husband said to her, “Hannah, why do you weep? Why do you not eat? And why is your heart grieved? Am I not better to you than ten sons?” (1.8).

This was never the way God intended marriage to be.

 

Hannah’s Vow

 

11 Then she made a vow and said, “O Lord of hosts, if You will indeed look on the affliction of Your maidservant and remember me, and not forget Your maidservant, but will give Your maidservant a male child, then I will give him to the Lord all the days of his life, and no razor shall come upon his head.”

In the midst of it all, God heard the prayer of His humble servant, Hannah, and gave her a son. Notice how this faithful woman kept her vow to the Lord:

“Now when she had weaned him, she took him up with her … and brought him to the house of the LORD in Shiloh.. And the child was young … For this child I prayed, and the LORD has granted me my petition which I asked of Him. Therefore I also have lent him to the LORD; as long as he lives he shall be lent to the LORD.” So they worshiped the LORD there” (vv.24-28).

Her son, by the way, was Samuel. He would become the first Prophet mentioned more than just in passing and would greatly influence the nation and God’s people. We will read more of his story as we continue through the Old Testament.

 

God’s Judgment on Willful, Unrepentant Sin

 

Next there’s the sad story of Eli and his two ungodly sons in chapters 2 & 3. All three were priests. Eli knew that his sons were stealing the part of the sacrifices that belonged to God and sleeping with women who came to the tabernacle, yet he failed to deal decisively with them. The boys themselves had so hardened their hearts through their sin and disobedience that “the Lord desired to kill them” (1 Sam 2.25) and God added His judicial hardening to their willful hardening by removing His restraining grace.

Romans 1 explains it this way:

18 For the wrath of God is revealed from heaven against all ungodliness and unrighteousness of men, who suppress the truth in unrighteousness, 19 because what may be known of God is manifest in them, for God has shown it to them. 20 For since the creation of the world His invisible attributes are clearly seen, being understood by the things that are made, even His eternal power and Godhead, so that they are without excuse, 21 because, although they knew God, they did not glorify Him as God, nor were thankful, but became futile in their thoughts, and their foolish hearts were darkened. (emphasis added)

There is enough of God’s truth revealed through creation to make us all responsible for our actions. It’s not that we don’t know the truth, rather we choose to suppress it.

22 Professing to be wise, they became fools, 23 and changed the glory of the incorruptible God into an image made like corruptible man—and birds and four-footed animals and creeping things.

24 Therefore God also gave them up to uncleanness, in the lusts of their hearts, to dishonor their bodies among themselves, 25 who exchanged the truth of God for the lie, and worshiped and served the creature rather than the Creator, who is blessed forever. Amen.

This is sometimes called the downward spiral of sin. These two priests, not only had the truth revealed through general revelation (creation, including our consciences), but they knew God’s law. Yet their hearts were darkened by their own sin and then “God gave them up” (removed some of His restraining grace).

26 For this reason God gave them up to vile passions. For even their women exchanged the natural use for what is against nature. 27 Likewise also the men, leaving the natural use of the woman, burned in their lust for one another, men with men committing what is shameful, and receiving in themselves the penalty of their error which was due.

If we continue down that path of disobedience, God will remove even more of His restraining grace.

28 And even as they did not like to retain God in their knowledge, God gave them over to a debased mind, to do those things which are not fitting; 29 being filled with all unrighteousness, sexual immorality, wickedness, covetousness, maliciousness; full of envy, murder, strife, deceit, evil-mindedness; they are whisperers, 30 backbiters, haters of God, violent, proud, boasters, inventors of evil things, disobedient to parents, 31 undiscerning, untrustworthy, unloving, unforgiving, unmerciful; 32 who, knowing the righteous judgment of God, that those who practice such things are deserving of death, not only do the same but also approve of those who practice them (emphasis added).

Finally, He will give us over to our own sinful cravings as He did with Eli’s sons.

 

Sin’s Invisible Hooks

 

How did these two priests end up where they did? How did it start? What compromises did they make in their thoughts and attitudes along the way? How did they end up sleeping with women in the tabernacle? And can that kind of thing happen to us?  Continue reading

“The Battle for Truth & Religious Liberty” April 29

 

The Battle for Truth & Religious Liberty - Today the battle for truth and religious liberty is raging. Truth has become relative. God's Word carries no authority for the majority of the people in our nation and much of the Western World. So what can we do to prepare ourselves for the continuing battle?Today the battle for truth and religious liberty is raging. Truth has become relative. God’s Word carries no authority for the majority of the people in our nation and much of the Western World.

Christians are being denied jobs or realizing they can no longer work in their chosen fields without compromising their religious convictions. Those who speak up for what is morally right are called bigoted, intolerant or worse.

We need to be careful about putting our hope in any changes in government or leadership to protect us. While there might be a temporary slowing of the process, I believe in the long run these trends will continue, perhaps faster than we think possible. Just look at how things have changed in the last five years.

So what can we do to prepare ourselves for the continuing battle?

 

Today’s Readings:
Ruth 3 & 4
Psalm 52.6-9
Proverbs 15.6-7
Luke 20.1-26

 

The Battle for Truth & Religious Liberty

 

Luke 20.1-26:

By What Authority?

 

Verses 1-2, “Now it happened on one of those days, as He taught the people in the temple and preached the gospel, that the chief priests and the scribes, together with the elders, confronted Him and spoke to Him, saying, “Tell us, by what authority are You doing these things? Or who is he who gave You this authority?”

Today the words may be different, but the heart attitude is the same.

“What right do you have to impose your religious beliefs on me? I can live anyway I please!”

“Who do you think you are? You have no right to refuse your services to me!”

 

The Battle for Truth & Religious Liberty

 

Today the battle for truth and religious liberty is raging. Truth has become relative. Much like what we just finished reading in the book of Judges, everyone believes they’re free to decide what’s right for them. God’s Word carries no authority for the majority of the people in our nation and much of the Western World.

Christians in the scientific community and in the world of academics have been discredited, marginalized, refused positions, and fired for expressing their beliefs.

Christians are now being attacked and made an example of in the market place. There have even been attempts to intimidate pastors who speak out about homosexuality and gay marriage. Sadly, I believe we can expect these trends to continue in the long run and pick up speed.

If you’ve listened to the news in recent months, you know even free speech itself is being attacked in the very institutions that have traditionally stood for the free exchange of ideas. Students on university campuses are rioting to prevent the expression of opinions and ideas with which they disagree. And those who oppose them are afraid to speak up for fear of becoming targets themselves.

 

What If It’s Us?

 

How should we respond if (or perhaps, more accurately, when) we find ourselves in the cross hairs of this intolerant culture? The book of 1 Peter has some things to say on that subject.  Continue reading

“What Would They Call You?” April 28

 

What Would They Call YOU? - “Do not call me Naomi; call me Mara, for the Almighty has dealt very bitterly with me” (Ruth 1.20). Mara means “bitter.” Can you imagine meeting an old friend after a long absence and when she calls you by name, you say, “Don’t call me Donna or Diane or David … call me Bitter.” If someone else was to describe you using one word, what would they call you? Would it be kind, compassionate, joyful, thankful … or would it be ungrateful, fearful, critical, angry, sarcastic, or bitter?“Do not call me Naomi; call me Mara, for the Almighty has dealt very bitterly with me” (Ruth 1.20).

Mara means “bitter.” Can you imagine meeting an old friend after a long absence and when she calls you by name, you say, “Don’t call me Donna or Diane or David … call me Bitter.”

If someone else was to describe you using one word, what would they call you? Would it be kind, compassionate, joyful, thankful … or would it be ungrateful, fearful, critical, angry, sarcastic, or bitter?

 

Today’s Readings:
Ruth 1 & 2
Psalm 52.1-5
Proverbs 15.4-5
Luke 19.28-48

 

What Would They Call You?

 

Ruth 1 & 2:

Famine and Loss

 

We’re beginning the book of Ruth, a beautiful little story of God’s mercy and redemptive work in the midst of great sin and evil. This story takes place during the time of the Judges when, as you remember, “everyone did what was right in his own eyes” (Judges 17.6, 21.25)

The story starts out talking about a famine in Bethlehem where Naomi and her husband Elimelech live. God often uses famine to discipline His people, but He also uses it to prune and grow and test them.

Because of the famine Elimelech takes his family, Naomi and his two sons, and moves to Moab where he dies. The boys marry and then die prematurely, too. Eventually, Naomi hears that there is bread—prosperity—once again back home so she decides to return.

 

Packing Up

 

Dr. Amy Baker, a teacher and counselor at Faith Baptist Church in LaFayette, Indiana, paints an interesting picture of this story. She pictures Naomi and her daughters-in-law packing and cleaning and getting the house ready to sell and finally loading the wagon and getting on the road headed for Jerusalem when Naomi says to the girls, in effect, “Why don’t you just go back home to your families? I’m not going to be any good to you.”

They obviously love Naomi. Both of them weep and tell her they want to go with her, but Orpah eventually heads back to her family. Ruth does not; instead, she insists on going with Naomi.

What is going on here? We don’t know all the details, but we can glean a great many truths—some of them sad and some beautiful. Continue reading

“Sin’s Bizarre End” April 27

 

Sin's Bizarre End: The consequences of rejecting God are not pretty. As one sin leads to another, the results are sad, costly, and sometimes downright bizarre. The book of Judges ends with several examples, including how to get your relatives attention and how to get a wife.

Sin’s Bizarre End: Today we wind up one of the saddest periods is Israel’s history—to quote John MacArthur, “Judges 17-21 vividly demonstrates how bizarre and deep sin can become when people throw off the authority of God …”

The consequences of rejecting His authority are not pretty. As one sin leads to another, the results are sad, costly, and sometimes downright bizarre. The book of Judges ends with several examples, including how to get your relatives attention and how to get a wife.

 

Today’s Readings:
Judges 20 & 21
Psalm 51.12-19
Proverbs 15.1-3
Luke 19.1-27

 

Judges 20 & 21:

Grab Your Partner … Do-Si-Do

 

Everyone did what was right in his own eyes.

Can you imagine telling some cousins, we’re sorry you don’t have any women to marry, but some of our other cousins are having a party and the girls will be out back dancing. So just grab some of them and we’ll look the other way!? Or how about offering your virgin daughter to a bunch of rapists or shaking up your complacent relatives by sending a part of your murdered wife’s body to each family. It makes you wonder why the human race has even survived this long … only because of the grace of God!

 

Our Own Bizarre Consequences

 

But before we criticize our spiritual ancestors too harshly, we need to look at our nation today. Where has sin and the rejection of God led usContinue reading

“The Good Shepherd & Broken Bones” April 26

 

The Good Shepherd & Broken Bones

Verse 51.8, “Make me hear joy and gladness, that the bones You have broken may rejoice.” Why would the Good Shepherd allow the “broken bones” of trials and hardships to happen in the lives of His lambs?

 

Today’s Readings:
Judges 17-19
Psalm 51.7-11
Proverbs 14.33-35
Luke 18.24-43

 

The Good Shepherd & Broken Bones

 

Psalm 51.7-11:

Growing Close to the Good Shepherd

 

Verse 51.8, “Make me hear joy and gladness, that the bones You have broken may rejoice.” If you want to read an incredible commentary on Psalm 51, order the book Whiter Than Snow by Paul Tripp.

The section on verse 8 is too long to share with you here, but it reminded me of the way shepherds in Biblical times sometimes dealt with wayward lambs. If they kept running away, the shepherd knew sooner or later they would be eaten by a predator, so after repeatedly bringing them back to the fold, he would break one or more of their legs so they could no longer run. Then he would gently carry that lamb wrapped around his neck and shoulders. As the legs healed, the lamb would grow close to the shepherd and no longer want to run away.

Sometimes God has to use difficulties in our lives—broken bones, if you will—to keep us from wandering away from Him. When that happens we need to see them as part of His redemptive love for us because, ultimately, the safest place for us to be is close to the Great Shepherd.

 

Today’s Other Readings:

 

Judges 17-19:

“Everyone Did What Was Right in His Own Eyes”

 

Verse 17.6, “In those days there was no king in Israel; everyone did what was right in his own eyes.”

This is the theme of the book of Judges and the stories it contains gives a graphic illustration of the moral condition of the nation as a result.  Continue reading

“How God Uses Imperfect People” April 25

 

How God Uses Imperfect People - Have you ever wondered how God could use some of the people in the Bible? David with his adultery and scheming? Gideon with his fear and weaknesses? Jonah with his rebellion? Sampson with his pride and womanizing? Do you ever wonder if He could possibly use you?Have you ever wondered how God could use some of the people in the Bible? David with his adultery and scheming? Gideon with his fear and weaknesses? Jonah with his rebellion? Sampson with his pride and womanizing? Do you ever wonder if He could possibly use you?

Also:

How do you respond when you’re confronted with sin in your life? Are you defensive or do you humbly admit and confess as David did in Psalm 51?

What are you doing to be prepared to help the poor? Are you a wise steward or do you spend every penny you get, making it impossible for you to meet a need when you see one? Are you prepared to share the gospel with unbelievers or do you avoid it because of indifference or a lack of preparation?

Are you persistent in prayer? Do you trust God and wait on His timing? Or do you quickly give up?

 

Today’s Readings:
Judges 15 & 16
Psalm 51.1-6
Proverbs 14.31-32
Luke 18.1-23

 

How Uses Imperfect People

 

Judges 15 & 16:

Sampson, Judge of Israel & Womanizer

 

Have you ever wondered how God could use some of the people in the Bible? David with his adultery and scheming? Gideon with his fear and weaknesses? Jonah with his rebellion? The list is much longer than the who’s who in Hebrews 11.

Here in Judges 13-16 we have Sampson’s story. Talk about using imperfect people! That He could use Sampson with his pride and womanizing!

As we come to the end of his story, Sampson has been judging Israel for 20 years. And nothing much has changed. When he goes to visit a harlot in Gaza (v. 1), the Gazites lay a trap for him, but God delivers him, in spite of his sin and rebellion.

Next the text says, “he loved a woman in the Valley of Sorek, whose name was Delilah.” You have to wonder if this had anything to do with love, more likely, lust.

And the lords of the Philistines came up to her and said to her, “Entice him, and find out where his great strength lies, and by what means we may overpower him, that we may bind him to afflict him; and every one of us will give you eleven hundred pieces of silver.”

So Delilah said to Samson, “Please tell me where your great strength lies, and with what you may be bound to afflict you.”

You might think Sampson would see that request as a red flag concerning her character, but she probably wasn’t much different from many others who had attracted his attention. Instead, he made up an answer to appease her.

And Samson said to her, “If they bind me with seven fresh bowstrings, not yet dried, then I shall become weak, and be like any other man.”

So the lords of the Philistines brought up to her seven fresh bowstrings, not yet dried, and she bound him with them. Now men were lying in wait, staying with her in the room. And she said to him, “The Philistines are upon you, Samson!” But he broke the bowstrings as a strand of yarn breaks when it touches fire. So the secret of his strength was not known.

10 Then Delilah said to Samson, “Look, you have mocked me and told me lies. Now, please tell me what you may be bound with.”

Another red flag. And another lie. And another.

15 Then she said to him, “How can you say, ‘I love you,’ when your heart is not with me? You have mocked me these three times, and have not told me where your great strength lies.16 And it came to pass, when she pestered him daily with her words and pressed him, so that his soul was vexed to death, 17 that he told her all his heart, and said to her, “No razor has ever come upon my head, for I have been a Nazirite to God from my mother’s womb. If I am shaven, then my strength will leave me, and I shall become weak, and be like any other man.”

Not only did he take her questions lightly, but now he presumed on God’s grace.

18 When Delilah saw that he had told her all his heart, she sent and called for the lords of the Philistines, saying, “Come up once more, for he has told me all his heart.” So the lords of the Philistines came up to her and brought the money in their hand. 19 Then she lulled him to sleep on her knees, and called for a man and had him shave off the seven locks of his head. Then she began to torment him, and his strength left him. 20 And she said, “The Philistines are upon you, Samson!” So he awoke from his sleep, and said, “I will go out as before, at other times, and shake myself free!” But he did not know that the Lord had departed from him.

21 Then the Philistines took him and put out his eyes, and brought him down to Gaza. They bound him with bronze fetters, and he became a grinder in the prison.

Later, during a religious festival honoring their god, “when their hearts were merry, that they said, ‘Call for Samson, that he may perform for us.'”

Through the years Sampson had used the strength God had given him for his own selfish purposes, lived immorally, and taken lightly the things of God. Now it had cost him his eyes, his freedom and turned him into a cheap carnival act. Such is the deceitfulness of sin. It never delivers what it promises!

But God was at work, in spite of him, and his hair, the symbol of his strength, had been growing.

26 Then Samson said to the lad who held him by the hand, “Let me feel the pillars which support the temple, so that I can lean on them.” 27 Now the temple was full of men and women. All the lords of the Philistines were there—about three thousand men and women on the roof watching while Samson performed.

28 Then Samson called to the Lord, saying, “O Lord God, remember me, I pray! Strengthen me, I pray, just this once, O God, that I may with one blow take vengeance on the Philistines for my two eyes!” 29 And Samson took hold of the two middle pillars which supported the temple, and he braced himself against them, one on his right and the other on his left. 30 Then Samson said, “Let me die with the Philistines!” And he pushed with all his might, and the temple fell on the lords and all the people who were in it. So the dead that he killed at his death were more than he had killed in his life.

Remember God’s purpose in all of this was that Sampson would “begin to deliver Israel out of the hand of the Philistines” (Judges 13.5). And even in his death, God accomplished that purpose.

In the process, God blessed Manoah and his wife with the child they desired and other children, as well (v. 16.31). Although, it must have been a great grief to them to see this son with so much potential waste his gifts and talents as he did. Could it have been a consequence of coddling and catering to him in his youth (see yesterday’s reading)?

Even so, Sampson, like all of us, was responsible for his own personal choices. It seems to me that he was the one who found the least satisfaction in all of this. In the area of his personal relationships, he continually ran after whatever appealed to him. His motives were selfish and he sought to fulfill them in ungodly ways. Consequently, they never brought him any lasting joy, peace or satisfaction.

Talk about using imperfect people!

 

But What About Us?

 

Romans 15.4 tells us that:

“… whatever things were written before were written for our learning, that we through the patience and comfort of the Scriptures might have hope.”

What in Sampson’s story can we apply to our lives? Certainly, it should give us hope that God can and will use us. But could we be wasting God’s good gifts, getting involved in relationships God can’t bless, or seeking satisfaction in things other than God Himself? Let’s pray that we learn from his example and repent of those tendencies.

 

Today’s Other Readings:

 

Psalm 51.1-6:

David’s Psalm of Repentance

 

prayer repentance

What a great psalm to go to when we realize we have sinned and fallen short of God’s best in our lives! If that is you, you might want to pray this psalm as a prayer. It begins:

¹ Have mercy upon me, O God,
According to Your lovingkindness;
According to the multitude of Your tender mercies,
Blot out my transgressions.
Wash me thoroughly from my iniquity,
And cleanse me from my sin.

For I acknowledge my transgressions,
And my sin is always before me.
Against You, You only, have I sinned,
And done this evil in Your sight—

Purge me with hyssop, and I shall be clean;
Wash me, and I shall be whiter than snow.

Proverbs 14.31-32:

The Poor and the Poor in Spirit

 

Verse 31, “He who oppresses the poor reproaches his Maker, but he who honors Him has mercy on the needy.”

As believers we should have mercy on the poor, but not just the poor physically, also those who are poor spiritually. By learning to share the gospel we can offer that which is the most valuable of all—that is, spiritual riches.

 

Luke 18.1-23:

Persistence in Prayer

 

prayer

Verse 1 is one of my favorites:

“Then He spoke a parable to them, that men always ought to pray and not lose heart.”

The parable that follows can be a great encouragement to stay faithful in prayer. God is not saying He is like the unjust judge, but contrasting the two by saying, if even an unjust judge will finally give in and respond to constant requests, how much more will God who is perfect respond to us when we are faithful to pray and wait on Him.

 

What about you?

How do you respond when you are confronted with sin in your life? Are you defensive or do you humbly admit and confess as David did in Psalm 51?

What are you doing to be prepared to help the poor? Are you a wise steward or do you spend every penny you get, making it impossible for you to meet a need when you see one? Are you prepared to share the gospel with unbelievers or do you avoid it because of indifference or a lack of preparation?

Are you persistent in prayer? Do you trust God and wait on His timing? Or do you quickly give up? Are you tempted to doubt God’s faithfulness?

What did you take away from Sampson’s story?

Have a blessed day,
Donna

 


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“Spoiled Children & Selfish Adults” April 24

 

Spoiled Children & Selfish Adults - Children who grow to expect whatever makes them happy, often approach the throne room of God like spoiled children and grow to be selfish adults. How does your parenting help or hinder your children's understanding of God? Could you be setting them up for failure in their relationships with a future spouse or others without even realizing it?Children who grow to expect whatever makes them happy, often approach the throne room of God like spoiled children and grow to be selfish adults. How does your parenting help or hinder your children’s understanding of God? Could you be setting them up for failure in their relationships with a future spouse or others without even realizing it?

 

Today’s Readings:
Judges 13 & 14
Psalm 50.16-23
Proverbs 14.29-30
Luke 17.20-37

 

Spoiled Children & Selfish Adults

 

Judges 13 & 14:

Get Her for Me

 

Here we begin the story of Sampson. We’ll talk more about Samson’s calling and how God used him tomorrow, but today I’d like to comment on a few things about his relationship with his parents.

Obviously, these were loving people who desired a child very much. They believed in God and reverenced Him as we see from their responses when they realized they had been visited by the Lord.

But I have to wonder how they parented Samson. The first interaction we see between them and their son is in 14.1-2:

“Now Samson went down to Timnah, and saw a woman in Timnah of the daughters of the Philistines. So he went up and told his father and mother, saying, ‘I have seen a woman in Timnah of the daughters of the Philistines; now therefore, get her for me as a wife.'”

His parents wanted him to do what was right:

“Then his father and mother said to him, ‘Is there no woman among the daughters of your brethren, or among all my people, that you must go and get a wife from the uncircumcised Philistines?'” (v. 3).

Sampson’s response:

““Get her for me, for she pleases me well” (v. 3).

“Get her for me!” And, of course, they did. Sometimes in our love and desire to see our children “happy,” we can easily become indulgent with them, giving them the idea that the world revolves around them.

Spoiled Children & Selfish Adults - Children who grow to expect whatever makes them happy, often approach the throne room of God like spoiled children and grow to be selfish adults. How does your parenting help or hinder your children's understanding of God? Could you be setting them up for failure in their relationships with a future spouse or others without even realizing it?Our children learn much about the nature of God from us. If we allow them to expect
whatever makes them happy, how will they approach the throne room of God? Many believers seem to think that God is there to give them whatever they want without regard to His will or His knowledge of what’s best.

This “get-me-what-I-want” attitude will also hinder their relationships with others. Paul said:  Continue reading

Marriage: Made in Heaven? Part 15 “Living with an Unbeliever” LINKUP

 

Marriage: Made in Heaven? Part 15 "Living with an Unbeliever" - Many believers find themselves married to unbelievers who have no interest in the things of God. While it can be challenging, God didn't leave us without instructions for such situations.Many believers find themselves married to unbelievers who have no interest in the things of God. While it can be challenging, God didn’t leave us without instructions for such situations.

 

Welcome to Mondays @ Soul Survival.

 

Marriage: Made in Heaven? Part 15 “Living with an Unbeliever”

 

We’re wrapping up a series on God’s design for marriage. If you haven’t read the previous posts in this series, you can read them here. In today’s post we’ll talk about living with an unbelieving spouse.

 

Marrying an Unbeliever

 

First, let me say that if you’re single and contemplating marriage, you are only free to marry “in the Lord.”

A wife is bound by law as long as her husband lives; but if her husband dies, she is at liberty to be married to whom she wishes, only in the Lord (1 Cor. 7.39).

That phrase “in the Lord” means “in Christ” or “in the common faith.” While Paul is speaking, specifically, to women in this verse, the principle applies to men and women who are single, biblically divorced, or widowed and is addressed in 2 Corinthians, as well.

14 Do not be unequally yoked together with unbelievers. For what fellowship has righteousness with lawlessness? And what communion has light with darkness? 15 And what accord has Christ with Belial? Or what part has a believer with an unbeliever? 16 And what agreement has the temple of God with idols? For you are the temple of the living God (2 Cor. 6.14-16).

This is not a suggestion. It’s not Old Testament. It’s a command. Unfortunately, some people come to the Lord with the idea that His Word is just a nicer way to live, perhaps the ideal, but we’re still free to do it or not. That has never been the case.

We women are, particularly, prone to try to justify dating and marrying unbelievers:

“Well, he comes to church with me.”

“I think he’s close to getting saved.”

“How will he come to know the Lord if I break up with him?”

“He believes in God.”

“He’s OK with me going to church.”

“It’s not a problem for us.”

“He’s a Christian, but he doesn’t believe in going to church.”

Need I go on?

I’ve counseled many women who were dating or engaged to unbelievers. I have explained God’s clear commands and warned them of the natural consequences of choosing to disobey God (Gal. 6.7-8). Sadly, few listen once they are emotionally attached, especially, if they have further disobeyed God by becoming sexually involved.

Many have come back later and said, “I should have listened.” Because …  Continue reading

“How to Forgive When You’re Not Feeling It” April 23

 

How to Forgive When You're Not Feeling It - We've all been there. We know God says we should forgive, but we're just not feeling it! We're not even sure we want to!  "After all ... it's not the first time!"  "If I forgive he'll think it's OK to do it again."  "What she said really hurt! It's time someone gave her some of her own medicine!"  "I'll forgive, but I'm not going to forget!"  "I'm just not ready to forgive."  "I don't know how to forgive when I'm not feeling it!"  It would be hypocritical to say I forgive when I don't mean it!"  What are the 3 promises of forgiveness and how can they help us forgive, even when we're not feeling it?

We’ve all been there. We know God says we should forgive, but we’re just not feeling it! We’re not even sure we want to!

“After all … it’s not the first time!”

“If I forgive he’ll think it’s OK to do it again.”

“What she said really hurt! It’s time someone gave her some of her own medicine!”

“I’ll forgive, but I’m not going to forget!”

“I’m just not ready to forgive.”

“I don’t know how to forgive when I’m not feeling it!”

It would be hypocritical to say I forgive when I don’t mean it!”

What are the 3 promises of forgiveness and how can they help us forgive, even when we’re not feeling it?

 

Today’s Readings:
Judges 11 & 12
Psalm 50.7-15
Proverbs 14.28
Luke 17.1-19

 

How to Forgive When You Aren’t Feeling It

 

Luke 17.1-19:

Increase Our Faith

 

Even the disciples struggled with this idea. Look at their conversation with Jesus in verses 3-5:

“Take heed to yourselves. If your brother sins against you, rebuke him; and if he repents, forgive him. And if he sins against you seven times in a day, and seven times in a day returns to you, saying, ‘I repent,’ you shall forgive him.”

And the apostles said to the Lord, “Increase our faith.”

“Increase our faith.” My paraphrase, “You’ve got to be kidding! Even if someone sins against me over and over in the same day and comes back saying, ‘I repent,’ I must forgive him?”

“Increase our faith.” Basically the disciples were saying, “That’s too hard. You’re going to have to give us some supernatural faith if we’re expected to do that!”

 

Faith is Not the Problem

 

So the Lord said, “If you have faith as a mustard seed, you can say to this mulberry tree, ‘Be pulled up by the roots and be planted in the sea,’ and it would obey you.

Then he went on to tell them a parable about a slave and his master.

And which of you, having a servant plowing or tending sheep, will say to him when he has come in from the field, ‘Come at once and sit down to eat’? But will he not rather say to him, ‘Prepare something for my supper, and gird yourself and serve me till I have eaten and drunk, and afterward you will eat and drink’? Does he thank that servant because he did the things that were commanded him? I think not. 

Jesus ended the parable by saying:

10 So likewise you, when you have done all those things which you are commanded, say, ‘We are unprofitable servants. We have done what was our duty to do.’”

Jesus had not changed the subject; He was still talking about forgiveness. Faith is not the problem when we refuse to forgive, obedience is! If Jesus is truly our Lord and we His servants, we should willingly obey Him even when it is challenging or seems unfair to us. And when we step out in faith, He provides the strength and ability.

It’s important to remember that biblical forgiveness is not about feelings. Sometimes we won’t feel like forgiving. The servant in the parable probably didn’t feel like serving his master when he was hot and tired and hungry himself, but he did it as an act of obedience. So too, we are to forgive as an act of obedience, as an act of our will.

 

The Three Promises of Forgiveness

 

So how, specifically, do we do that?  Continue reading

“Polygamy & Acceptable Sins” April 22

 

Polygamy & Acceptable Sins

“Why did God allow polygamy in the Old Testament?” I’ve heard that question many times. The truth is, it has always been sin, but at that time it was an acceptable sin by most people’s standards. What sins have you and I allowed to become acceptable?

 

Today’s Readings:
Judges 9 & 10
Psalm 50.1-6
Proverbs 14.25-27
Luke 16.1-31

 

Polygamy & Acceptable Sins

 

Judges 9 & 10:

Acceptable Sins

 

In Judges 8.30-31 Gideon had fallen into the sin of polygamy. Though it was tolerated in that society, it was never God’s intent. It always led to trouble and often outright evil as it did here in chapter 9.

We are introduced to Abimelech his son by another relationship. Gideon didn’t even marry this woman. Sin always spirals downward unless repented of and forsaken. Abimelech, not only conspired to become king of Shechem, but set out to kill all of his brothers—70 of them. He succeeded in killing all but one who hid from him.

What is God saying to us through this story? What principles can we learn? Possibly about the dangers of compromise?

If we trace this story back to 8.27, we see Gideon went from his great victory (remember 300 men to fight an enemy whose army was “as numerous as locusts” and who had “camels without number”) to making an ephod and setting it up in his hometown. An ephod, generally, referred to a sacred garment worn by a priest.

Matthew Henry says this may have included some kind of oracle to divine God’s will. The end of verse 27 says, “But soon all the Israelites prostituted themselves by worshiping it, and it became a trap for Gideon and his family.”

 

Our Acceptable Sins

 

 polygamy acceptable sinsIs there an area of your life, where you have allowed compromise to seep in? Is there some “ephod” you have created to remind yourself of a past victory? Is there something that seems like “a little sin” that you are allowing to remain in your heart or life? Maybe it’s unforgiveness, envy, jealousy, covetousness, worry, gossip?

“Gossip? Everyone does it!”

What about that guy you flirt with at work? … “Hey, I know he’s married, but we’re just friends. I’m not going to do anything!” What if it were your husband flirting with a female co-worker? Would it seem as harmless?

In reality, there are no “little sins”—just those at the top of that downward spiral of sin and are perhaps more acceptable. Worry isn’t even considered a sin by many, just as polygamy wasn’t by many in Gideon’s time.

Nothing much has changed since the garden. God had given Adam and Eve a clear command, “Of every tree of the garden you may freely eat; but of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil you shall not eat, for in the day that you eat of it you shall surely die” (Gen. 2.16-17).

One chapter later the serpent hissed, “You will not surely die. For God knows that in the day you eat of it your eyes will be opened, and you will be like God, knowing good and evil.” (Gen. 3:4-5) 

In other words, you can decide for yourself what’s right and what’s wrong. 

About living together … “I know some people think it’s wrong, but if I don’t let him move in, I’ll be alone. God understands. He doesn’t want me to be unhappy.”

Or …

“I know God hates divorce, but I just don’t love him any more. I can’t help it. God will forgive me.”

“I know he’s an unbeliever, but it’s only lunch.”

“Gimme a break! I’m a man. There’s no harm in looking! My wife is just jealous!”

“Everyone does it. It’s no big deal.”

What sins have we allowed to become acceptable?

 

Polygamy & Acceptable Sins - “Why did God allow polygamy in the Old Testament?” I’ve heard that question many times. The truth is, it has always been sin, but at that time it was an acceptable sin by most people’s standards. What sin have you allowed to become acceptable?


Today’s Other Readings:

 

Psalm 50.1-6:

The Judge of Heaven and Earth

 

Verse 1, “The Mighty One, God the LORD …” El, Elohim, Jehovah will one day come, not as the Savior, but as the Judge of heaven and earth (vv. 4, 6). When He does, He will gather His saints (v. 5), but it will be a day of judgment and wrath for those who do not belong to Him.

 

Our Job

 

Until then He is drawing people to Himself and He has called us to be part of that process:

“Go therefore and make disciples of all the nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all things that I have commanded you; and lo, I am with you always, even to the end of the age” (Matt. 28.19-20).

He doesn’t desire that anyone would be condemned. In fact, He “desires all men to be saved and to come to the knowledge of the truth” (1 Tim. 2.4). So let’s be about our Father’s business by faithfully sharing the Gospel with others. We can’t save anyone, but we can sow the seed, water what has been planted, and disciple those who have come to saving faith.

 

Proverbs 14.25-27:

True Witnesses Needed

 

Verse 25, “A true witness delivers souls ….” Are you being a true witness for the Lord? Each of us is called to deliver souls from that Day of Judgment.

 

Luke 16.1-31:

The Power of God for Salvation

 

Luke 16.31 should be a great encouragement to us in our witnessing. When the rich man implored Abraham to send Lazarus to warn his brothers, Abraham said:

“If they do not hear Moses and the prophets, neither will they be persuaded though one rise from the dead.”

Witnessing isn’t about us. We don’t have to have some great testimony or some great preaching ability. It’s about the all-sufficient Word of God. It’s the power of God for salvation.

Paul said, “For I am not ashamed of the gospel of Christ, for it is the power of God to salvation for everyone who believes, for the Jew first and also for the Greek” (Rom. 1.16).

 

What about you?

What keeps you from sharing your faith? Fear? Intimidation? Concern that someone won’t like you any more (fear of man)? Is it not having the right answers? What is hindering you from being that faithful witness?

If it’s lack of knowing how, there are many simple ways to do it. Learn one. Remember, it’s the Word of God, the Gospel, that is the power of God for salvation.

What sin have you allowed to become acceptable? Could you be sitting at the top of that downward spiral of sin? If you think you have it “under control,” you might be in more danger than you think (1 Cor. 10.12). Let’s pray for God’s help to be like the Apostle Paul who said:

“Therefore we make it our aim, whether present or absent, to be well pleasing to Him” (2 Cor. 5.9).

Blessings,
Donna


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